Steam trains and women……….is nothing sacred?

Women’s Day at Ramsbottom Railway station……………..well. sort of!


Friday morning is “business meeting” morning with friend and colleague Mike at our regular haunt the farm shop. It is here we catch up on things and then usually spend a couple of hours “putting the world to right” as we discuss important issues of the day e.g. will Burnley get promoted to the premiership this season (Mike is a season ticket holder and life long fan but is currently undergoing psychotherapy to cure him of this obsession).


We meet at the farm shop because of the convivial atmosphere and the excellent food they serve, although we tend to absence ourselves when it is half term when the kids pile in. We have asked that at least one day per week be designated a “child free day” but so far our request has fallen on deaf ears.


Prior to our meeting this morning I drove down to Ramsbottom train station to view the steam trains running today. The station is beautifully kept, very old world picturesque and brings back memories of what train stations used to be like in the age of steam.


I stood on the bridge over the railway line to get a better view and after a while I spotted the trail of steam in the distance indicating the train was on its way. Eventually it came into view pulling a number of carriages with passengers aboard. I took a number of photographs of the trains entry to the station and then moved onto the platform to get a closer look at the engine.


Imagine my surprise when I looked inside the cab and saw two women, fully kitted out and apparently helping to drive the engine. I was rather taken aback but at the same time extremely envious of them. They were accompanied by two men in the cab so I am not sure exactly who was playing what role. I suspect they may have been participating in the “footplate experience” where members of the public can pay to participate in driving the train for a day. If they were the actual train drivers I offer my wholesale apology for making an erroneous (and probably stereotypical assumption) assumption.


Anyway, they seemed engrossed in the experience and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I watched with envy as the train detached itself from the carriages and moved off down the line with the two men and two women aboard.


Moreover, it seemed that the line had been taken over by women as one of the operators in the signal box was a women and it was she who stood at the side of the track to hand over the “permission disc” to allow the train to progress on its way.


So back to my question, is nothing sacred? Well the answer is no and nor should it be. It was wonderful to see these women in the cab and taking an interest in the steam age and supporting such a worthy cause as the East Lancashire Railway.


The “season” is now in full flow for the East Lancashire Railway and there is a “Thomas the Tank Engine” event coming up at the end of April and which no doubt will attract hundreds of kids with eager parents.

Photographs (c) Kindadukish





This entry was posted in British railways, Diversity, Equality, Industrial Heritage, Photography, Steam age, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Steam trains and women……….is nothing sacred?

  1. Chris says:

    One of the women at least is a fireman and an employee of the ELR to boot, most lines seem to have female footplate crew these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kindadukish says:

      It is wonderful to see women involved with the steam railway and playing such an important part in its continuing existence. Now we just need a woman driver for the Flying Scotsman, now that would be a breakthrough.


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